‘I am not ruling myself out but I know it is not going to be easy’: Pat Brown admits he’s unlikely to earn a spot in England’s T20 World Cup squad after lower back stress fracture but aims to do everything he can to get picked
- Fast bowler Pat Brown has endured a second-successive winter where he has suffered a stress fracture of the lower back
- The 21-year-old made his T20 debut for England during their New Zealand tour
- However, due to his injury recurrence he missed England’s tour of South Africa
- He is now pessimistic of making England’s T20 World Cup squad in October
Pat Brown maybe hasn’t been in professional cricket long enough to look retrospectively at what he has already achieved with ball in hand.
But having only made his England debut in November, the 21-year-old is already keen to give back to the game – highlighted by his presence at the launch of Dynamos Cricket, the new ECB participation programme aimed at children between the ages of eight and 11.
It is fun and enjoyment of the game that Brown maintained is fundamental between those ages, yet there was no lack of verve or enthusiasm from the Worcestershire quick in the T20 leg of England’s recent tour to New Zealand.
Pat Brown has admitted he faces an uphill task to make it into England’s T20 World Cup squad
Brown took three wickets in four matches, removing the experienced Ross Taylor for his first international wicket in Christchurch and again in Napier, while a slower ball saw Martin Guptill fall in Nelson.
However, despite opening his international tally with the scalps of well-renowned global stars, Brown acknowledged that he didn’t quite take the series in his stride as the status of his victims may suggest.
‘It was quite tough and it was certainly a learning experience. I have never actually been abroad to play cricket before so it was tough adapting to different conditions and different dimensions of grounds and players,’ he told Sportsmail exclusively.
‘The main thing I took from it was how hard it can be bowling at the same players game after game, which you don’t get in county cricket, so I learnt quite a lot.
‘More so in international cricket you have to be more all-rounded, you can’t come with one plan three games in a row, because the chances are you’re going to get found out.
‘I think the main thing was firstly knowing that I think I am good enough for that level which is a big confidence boost, and I was happy enough with that, and secondly just knowing what I need to do to improve in terms of becoming a more all-round bowler.’
Brown made his England debut during November’s tour of New Zealand and took three wickets
For most bowlers that is an indication that their slower-ball variations and cutter variations are perhaps too predictable for batsmen to pick up on or are simply misguided too frequently. But for Brown it was the stock ball and yorker – as opposed to those change-up deliveries – that left him feeling ‘exposed’ against Kane Williamson’s men.
‘It is something I have been working on [a stock ball], and you work on it all the time, but certainly going to New Zealand it has opened my eyes a bit. I knew before, but it opened my eyes to maybe needing a bit more of a different dimension.
‘You are very easily exposed at that level, because if someone starts to read you they hit it for six but in county cricket you can still get away with it a little bit more, so I knew I needed something different and knew I probably needed to develop more of a yorker at the death.
‘If international players set up for four slower balls an over, the likelihood is they are going to get one or two, so it is something I have been working on. Captains want [variations at the death] as well but you have got to be consistent in doing that, doing it once isn’t enough. I have obviously done it a lot for Worcestershire in the T20 Blast but going up a level it’s different.
‘It has obviously been hindered by my back and struggling through back pain through the last three months of playing, even in New Zealand, so while it is something that has not held me back, it has limited my development on that.
‘Hopefully getting fit now will give me a good period of time where I am fit to work on that.’
The 21-year-old says he wants to work on his stock ball after feeling ‘exposed’ against the Kiwis
A period of time out with a stress fracture of the lower back for a second-successive winter is never an ideal time away from the game for any fast bowler, but Brown’s recurring injury came at exactly the wrong point in his fledgling international career.
Not only did it stop him from participating in his first ever Big Bash with finalists Melbourne Stars, but even more frustratingly it prevented him from partaking in potentially two limited-overs series against South Africa this month. With a T20 World Cup now just eight months away, he is now pessimistic of his chances of playing a major part in Australia.
‘It was certainly very disappointing that it happened while I was out in Australia for the Big Bash. I didn’t manage to play a game over there and I was training when it came to fruition.
‘The most disappointing thing really is that I have not had the chance to show what I have learnt from New Zealand. In terms of recovery it is quite slow going at the moment, it is a case of waiting for the all-clear and then I can start to ramp it up again and look to be ready for the T20 Blast.
‘It was certainly on my mind that I am probably not in a great position now for that World Cup, but to have had my sights on that is not far-fetched, but a little bit too far into the future anyway.
‘I think knowing what I know now about how much I am going to be able to play and how much I will have played leading up to the World Cup, my main focus is to see if I can put myself in a position where I’m first in if unfortunately somebody has to drop out like I did in South Africa. That is all I can do really.
‘I am not ruling myself out but I know it is not going to be easy.’
For now his aim is to get fit again after suffering another a stress fracture of the lower back
With or without Brown in the side, Eoin Morgan and his side will look to create further limited-overs history by attempting to become the first team ever to hold both the 20-over and 50-over World Cups after their success in the latter at the beginning of last summer.
The Worcestershire quick believes the ingredients for further success are there after the relative ease with which England chased down 223 in the final T20 against Quinton de Kock’s men at Centurion after half-centuries from Jos Buttler and Morgan, under whose leadership Brown expects the side to unite once more Down Under.
‘We know how good a side they are in white-ball cricket and we saw that in the World Cup. We certainly saw glimpses of it in South Africa chasing down 200.
‘I think everyone in world cricket knows how dangerous England are certainly in their batting line-up. When you have got Moeen Ali striding out at seven or eight, it is a good batting lineup, so I think every team in the world will be wary of doing and it is just a case of putting it together, which I am sure they will do under Eoin Morgan’s leadership.’
England’s ability of putting together a coherent machine in Australia will partly rely a younger crop of players beginning to get their chance at the international level, of which Brown is part of.
Fellow young fast bowler Saqib Mahmood played alongside Brown at Wellington and Nelson, and the Worcestershire bowler believes that the 23-year-old Lancashire paceman ‘can add a dimension that we haven’t seen in the past’.
He was speaking at the launch of Dynamos Cricket, ECB’s new programme for kids aged 8-11
Mahmood, alongside Craig Overton and Olly Stone, was also the beneficiary of newly-devised bowling contracts to be controlled by the ECB for the next seven months.
While the trio will remain contracted by their counties, the majority of their wages will be paid by the ECB in exchange for influencing their match availability and fitness programmes, with the board keen to identify young bowlers who could be potential Ashes tourists in 2021-22.
The agreements run until September 30 this year and other players will be considered for similar deals in the future, but Brown insists his mind is not currently focused on becoming one of those players tracked by the ECB for that particular deal.
‘I wouldn’t say it is a target as such. It is one of those things where it is cliche to say it but it will come round if you have success, so my main focus is to have success by keep bowling well.
‘If I keep doing that and if I get picked for England again then I am sure there is potential for that in the future. It is something long-term that is probably a target but not something that is at the forefront of my mind.’
Pat Brown was speaking at the launch of Dynamos Cricket, ECB’s new cricket programme for children aged 8-11. Parents can find out more and register their kids at dynamoscricket.co.uk.
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